‘Intimidated’ miners plan march to police station

Striking Lonmin workers discuss a wage increase offer in Marikana, North West, on 14 September 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

MARIKANA/JOHANNESBURG - Strike leaders from various mining companies in the North West say workers will march to the Rustenburg Police Station on Sunday.

Workers will demand that police officers and soldiers deployed to the area stop “intimidating” them during their protest for wage increases.

Earlier, police fired rubber bullets and teargas to disperse demonstrators in Marikana.

The crackdown comes a day after cabinet ministers announced violence at the mining town would no longer be tolerated, following the deaths of 34 miners during clashes with police on 16 August.

Strike leaders have condemned the police’s reaction to stick-wielding workers gathering in groups today.

Lonmin workers from the Marikana operation downed tools more than a month ago, while miners from Anglo American Platinum Mine embarked on a strike on Wednesday.

Violence has headlined the Lonmin strike, claiming a total 45 lives.

Workers have formed a strike committee made up of representatives from all mine operations in the area and have called on surrounding communities to join their march tomorrow.

They also say miners across Rustenburg will now join them in protesting for a R12, 500 salary


The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Saturday hailed the police crackdown in Marikana – while the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) slammed the operation.

NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka says disarming the striking workers will prevent more killings.

He said although striking miners had the right to protest, it was unconstitutional to intimidate workers who wanted to report for work.

But Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa says government needs to face the mining crisis head on, rather than use police to contribute to the violence.

He accused government of “diverting” from the matter and called on President Jacob Zuma to organise a mining indaba on the violence at some of the country’s biggest mines.

At the same time, labour analyst Andrew Levy says government’s announcement is little more than words at this stage and asked why it has only decided to intervene a month after blood was shed.

He says it is inevitable that Government’s new approach will back fire.

Levy added that miners would not easily be swayed by threats.

“The stage that the miners have reached is such that they really are not going to be swayed easily by threats.

“They need to go on (striking) because they feel it is the right thing to do.”

(Edited by Thato Motaung)